Saturday, November 26, 2022

On the Digital Drawing board wrap-up: Google, Pixar, Spanx, Elections and Books

Over the past few months I’ve had trouble finding time to post here. It remains that way. Seven corporate projects and three book illustration jobs currently reside on the drawing board, and I recently turned down a few new projects, due to being overbooked. Good to be busy, yes, but perhaps a bit too much. Thanksgiving weekend is providing a nice break and time with my family. I have a few minutes while everyone is asleep, to stop in and write a little.
I will waste no time in briefly sharing a few recent things…
We'll start things off with a sample from of a large number of political cartoons created the recent election. These cover the Liz Cheney - Harriet Hageman race, Hageman won, (and the final election was all but decided long before November.)

A side note: after drawing the two women, I feel they're both very interesting looking people.


  An illustration of Roseanne Cash performing at Carnegie hall. One of over a dozen illustrations currently in process for a book about prioritization. The author, a longtime executive with DreamWorks, just sent it to the publisher for final editing.

I'm in the early stages of illustrating a children's book called "The Moon and the Mantis".
Below are some initial design sketches and color studies for one of the main characters. I'm also working on a thumbnail sketch layout of page illustrations for the publisher, (more to come)...

Next up is a personal commission for the editor of a publication with whom I have worked in recent months. She and her husband live in Philadelphia, and her son is a college student at Bowdoin College in Maine. They wanted to give him a framed illustration of his personal milestones (thus far) as a gift for Christmas. I had fun with this, adding some thematic elements that reflected her son's interests. I created two versions, one vertical and the second horizontal, allowing she and her husband to choose which worked best aesthetically and for framing.

clicken to embiggen

One of several cartoons created for The Pathway Academy in London.

A cartoon illustration commissioned by a Citi Group Financial 
executive for a presentation to investment bakers. 

One of several scenes of background artwork I created for an animated short film.
(I am not involved with the animated sequences.) The film will be finished in Spring 2023. 
(Clicken to enlargen)

I was recently hired by Google to create a series of cartoons for their advertising. They first contacted me a couple of years ago to create some humor for meetings with executives of large client companies. The goal this time is to compare the benefits of their cloud storage to that of AWS (Amazon) and Microsoft. To be candid, data storage is fairly boring subject matter...and they want humor to season it, like herbs added to a an otherwise good-looking but bland quiche or soufflé . (Now I have a hankering for a hunk of Gruyère cheese.)
So, I'm starting by having some fun with the writing. (And Google's plentiful budget allows for lots of playing.) I'm in the midst of initial concepts and rough sketches, and will share some finished things soon.

Another fun project currently on the board is a new book illustration project for an author who is a former Apple and DreamWorks executive. He has an agent and publisher in hand and he has been working with an editor. He’ll remain nameless right now…but I’ll just say that he contacted me a few months back to help him by writing humor and then illustrating his concepts in a way that hopefully helps to keep the reader engaged. I can't divulge what it's about or share images, as it is under non-disclosure wraps for now, via his agent and publisher. Suffice it to say that after reading it, this seems like a book that will appeal to a good number of readers, particularly in the corporate world.


Next up: a personal commission depicting Sara Blakely (Spanx clothing founder) and her husband, Jesse Itzler, (owner of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team) I was asked to create it by a long-time client who is a friend of theirs, and this will presented to them as gift at their home. The scene is an inside joke about online dating, and the language and misspellings used in meeting each other. I don’t fully get that joke, but I have been assured that they will….which is what matters. Meanwhile, it has been fun to draw them in a relatively simple style, (less detailed than I do for most personal commissions and caricature illustrations.)
Sara Blakely

I'm in the midst of creating some pen and ink illustrations for Burpee Seeds/Ball Horticultural in Chicago. The illustrations depict various plants sold in Home Depot.

I created for a comic book style illustration for one of their print ads in 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazine two years ago:
This time I'm using a pen and ink with watercolor style, which is quite a bit more detailed. My music is on, and I'm jamming while drawing pots, leaves, tomatoes and soil.  
The art will be part of instructional material sent to all Home Depot stores in March. First draft below:
(Clicken to embiggen)


Here’s something currently on the drawing board for a law firm in NYC with whom I’ve worked for several years. This is a Holiday greeting card that will be mailed to their friends and clients and also posted online as part of a charitable donation drive for the homeless. In this case, the concept and dialogue was written by some of the partners in the firm...I served as the illustrator. (Gray scale first draft was just approved, and I added color..will send it off later today.)

 Here's a Holiday piece I'm creating created for a new client, a large biotech company in California. We're discussing quarterly illustrations for their marketing and advertising going forward.


Sunday, October 02, 2022

Relaxation and reflection

My family and I wrapped up busy few months of work - with a few trips. The first was a visit to see my Mom and my brother and his family in Chicago. The Windy City was spectacular as always., and we enjoyed some time together.

A month later, a jaunt to the Rocky Mountains Summit area. We brought the puppy and spent a few days mountain biking, riding horses and also getting to the top of a few peaks. (The pup was very interested in the view)


The next trip was a 1,200 mile drive to Nashville. My daughter has been in an illustration and animation program at Lipscomb University over the past three years. She is studying with several Disney artists and animators… and is starting her senior year. This time she wanted to have her car on campus and I guess I can understand that. I had a car on campus my last two years in college - a small British two-seater that I worked two summers to buy (used for the grand sum of $2,500.) The freedom that comes with a spur of the moment drive after a long day of classes - or a weekend cruise to a nearby town or park - is hard to beat. 

So, during the month before the trip I did some maintenance on her car just to make sure it was up to not only making the long trip but being away for eight months, and then returning. I like to work on cars and I needed to take a break. 

The two-day trip was lots of fun, with Julia and I driving through Kansas and Missouri, seeing St. Louis and a good part of the heartland. We stayed overnight in Overland Park, Kansas which was just about halfway. The next day we enjoyed the rolling hills of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Overland Park, Kansas                     St. Louis


                                                       Setting up Julia's dorm room
When we made it to Nashville, it was a matter of moving boxes, a refrigerator, and shelving into my daughter's new residence with her roommate from last year. Lots of fun and exercise. We spent the last night in downtown Nashville, grabbing dinner and then enjoying some live music. 

On Monday AM, I flew back to Denver, and now and I'm catching up, but I have to admit, I really miss my daughter. 

I arrived home just in time for my wife and I to celebrate our anniversary, which was a perfect reflective finale to a flurry of activities. It often seems life is like task or event after another, in rapid-fire fashion. It would be nice to enjoy each for more than what feels like just a moment.

Monday, May 30, 2022

On the Digital Drawing Board

Happy Memorial Day! 

The annual Bolder Boulder 10K race just wrapped up, (after a two-year pandemic hiatus) attracting over 40,000 runners from around the globe. It was great to see the race resume and so many people enjoying the spectacle. We just watched the jets fly over the finish line at the University of Colorado's Folsom Stadium.

This is just a quick drop-in to share a few things that have been on the drawing board... 

 First, a caricature illustration of the current POTUS, for a book being published by Wiley and Sons later this summer.

As always, I cover both sides of the aisle
Next, a cartoon of the previous POTUS, that I created a couple of years ago, which was
recently licensed by McGraw Hill Publishing, for a college political science textbook. 

I was recently commissioned by a San Francisco design firm to do 12 large format comic art pieces for their client, prominent Internet security firm, Zscaler. The pieces feature caricature-based illustrations of executives and elected officials of their top clients - for whom they wish to show appreciation.
MOst of the companies are Silicon Valley tech firms, and one of the illustrations depicts officials in the The City of Los Angeles Mayor's office.  These were created at 5" X 15", printed on high quality archival stock, and then matted, framed, and presented to each executive as a gift.

Here are the first two:

(Click to enlarge)


A commissioned gift illustration created for a retiring English teacher at a high school in North Carolina. A group of his fellow teachers and friends hired me to draw this - and to show he's a poker-playing Elvis fan - who also loves reading Faulkner!

This was created at 11" X 18", sent digitally to the client, who then had it printed at local printer on special paper stock, (I always include instructions for that), then matted, and framed. It was presented to the gentleman at his retirement party.)



 This is a commissioned illustration created for a racing team in Minneapolis. The owner of the team contacted me with an idea for an illustration like the old "CAR-toons and Rat Fink art from the 1970's. He wanted something wild and fun to use on posters, signs and shirts. I did some research to see how to integrate the styles with mine, but I have to say this was a great deal of fun. (Added note: I just received a box of t-shirts from the racing team as a thank you!)